A Vote of Faith
October 16, 2020
I vividly remember the first time I voted. I pushed back the curtains, entered the little booth, flipped open the booklet, grabbed the pen, and made a perfect little black dot next to the name of George Washington. It was a tough choice over Abraham Lincoln, but I walked out with my ballot, confident in my decision. I was 7 years old. I had accompanied my mother to the local polling place where they had a child-sized set up for aspiring voters like myself. I still recall proudly wearing my “I Voted” sticker for the rest of the day.
As I’ve grown older, that pride and passion for voting have turned into dread and discouragement. Issues are complicated, candidates are multifaceted, misinformation is rampant. I still hold my vote with the same esteem – but the choices have become more weighted – requiring more time, research, and prayer.
Circulating social media are numerous memes and quotes of those claiming that “faith has no place in politics” or that “your religious beliefs shouldn’t dictate my life”. Many of these come in response to recent statements by current Vice President Mike Pence and Supreme Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett, who have cited their faith as the reason for supporting certain laws and agendas. While it is understandable why one may disagree with the particular political stance they hold, as a Roman Catholic Christian, I struggle to fathom – how do I vote or engage in politics without my faith, when my faith and my religion directly influence everything I do?
My love and curiosity for God’s creation spurred me to be a scientist. My invitation to share God-given gifts led me to become a teacher. My commandment to help the less fortunate encouraged me to work at a free museum in south-central Los Angeles. My faith not only influences these major life decisions, but even small ones, like being more eco-conscious, supporting Black Lives Matter, spending time in service, and countless others.
My faith motivates everything I do. How am I supposed to leave my faith out of politics?
The answer – I don’t. I can’t.
Recently, IFYC offered me the opportunity to participate in a webinar and discussion with Josh Dickerson, Faith Engagement Director for Biden for President. I was so excited for this opportunity to wrestle with this expected divergence of faith and politics alongside another person of faith, whose job it is to talk about faith while working for a person of faith! Among the many insights that Josh shared during the discussions, I was left reflecting on three ways that my religious beliefs influence my political involvement.
As I look back at my younger voting self, I realize that some things haven’t changed. I still treasure my right to vote, despite the deliberation and grappling it requires. I still wear my “I Voted” sticker with pride – maybe with even more – knowing how much investment went in to earn that decal. As I cast my votes this year, I will do my best to keep the spirit of little Elaine alive. I will give my ballot a little kiss and say a little prayer – a prayer of gratitude for this right and privilege, a prayer entrusting my vote to the larger forces at work, and a prayer of hope for a better America.
Elaine is a Roman Catholic Christian residing in Los Angeles, CA. She works as Lead Educator of the California Science Center, and also as Confirmation Coordinator at Our Savior Parish. Elaine holds a master’s degree in Marine Biology with an emphasis in Science Visualization from the University of Southern California. In her free time, Elaine enjoys outdoor activities, embroidering, animating, and swing dancing.
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